Courses

2016-2017

For more information, including syllabi and course locations, please visit the my.harvard Course Search.

Sophomore Tutorial

Social Studies 10a. Introduction to Social Studies
James Kloppenberg and members of the Committee
Half course (fall term). Tuesday 2-4, and a weekly section Thursday 2-4. 
This course offers an introduction to the classic texts of social theory of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Our focus will be on the rise of democratic, capitalist societies and the concomitant development of modern moral, political, and economic ideas. Authors we will examine include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx.

Note: This course is limited to sophomores and Social Studies concentrators. This course is a prerequisite for sophomores applying to Social Studies. Students planning to take this class must attend the first lecture to be admitted.

Social Studies 10b. Introduction to Social Studies
James Kloppenberg and members of the Committee
Half course (spring term). Tuesday 2-4, and a weekly section Thursday 2-4. 
This class continues the introduction to the classic texts of social theory begun in Social Studies 10a through the twentieth century. Authors include Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Sigmund Freud, and Michel Foucault.

Note: This course is limited to Social Studies concentrators who have taken Social Studies 10a.


Methods Course

Social Studies 40. Philosophy and Methods of the Social Sciences
Eric Beerbohm, Don Tontiplaphol, Carly Knight
Half course (spring term). 
This course integrates research methods with an investigation of the philosophical foundations of the social sciences. Topics covered include causal explanation, interpretation, rational choice and irrationality, relativism, collective action, and social choice. 


Activity-Based Learning Courses - New! 
Learn more about ABL courses here.

Social Studies 68ct. The Chinese Immigrant Experience in America
Nicole Newendorp
Half course (spring term). Thursday 1:00-3:00.
Uses the history of Boston’s Chinatown as a case study to examine the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. from the 1880s until the present. Employs historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives to examine major themes related to the social and economic development of U.S. Chinatowns and Chinese immigrant communities throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. This course is an activity-based learning course, limited to students who are concurrently participating in a Harvard-affiliated service program in or around Boston’s Chinatown. Class discussions and assignments will make active links with students’ service work. Open to students in all concentrations.

Social Studies 68ec. Education and Community in America: Universities and Community Engagement, 1890-2016
Ariane Liazos
Half course (fall term). Monday 1-3.
Explores efforts to realize the civic purpose of American universities, particularly in terms of attempts to engage local communities through educational outreach programs.  Examines major periods of experimentation and innovation in the 20th and 21st centuries, from the settlement house movement of the early 1900s to recent efforts to revive the public mission of universities through service-learning and other forms of civic education. This course is an activity-based learning course, limited to students who are concurrently participating in education-related service programs affiliated with Harvard. Class discussions and assignments will make active links with students' service work. Enrollment capped at 12. Open to students in all concentrations.


Junior Tutorials — Fall 2016
Note: Admission is based on student preferences and a lottery system. Undergraduate non-concentrators may enroll in these tutorials if space is available.

Social Studies 98ax. Development and Modernization: A Critical Perspective
Stephen Marglin
Half course (fall term). Tuesday 12-2.
What assumptions about human beings underlie the conviction that development and modernization constitute progress, that the developed West points the way for the rest of the world? Does economic growth involve a package that necessarily changes the society, the polity, and the culture along with the economy? This tutorial provides a framework for thinking about these questions, both in the context of the West, and in the context of the Third World.

Social Studies 98eo. Art, Popular Culture, and Civic Life
Kiku Adatto 
Half course (fall term). Tuesday 2-4. 

The seminar explores the interplay of the arts, popular culture and civic life. It will draw on studies in art, history, philosophy, literature, sociology, and photography.  Among the questions we will address are: How is historical memory constructed, and what are the competing forces that shape it?  What is the significance of public apologies, and does solidarity create moral responsibilities for historical injustices?  What accounts for impulse to control and censor the arts? How is cultural domination exerted, and how is it resisted?  In what ways does rhetoric shape politics, and what role does it play in national narratives?  Why does the contest to control images loom so large in politics and in our everyday lives?

Social Studies 98jl. Global Social Movements
Alison Denton Jones 
Half course (fall term). Thursday 2-4.
Social movements are often considered a driving force behind political, social, and cultural change. This course explores the major theoretical and empirical approaches used in the social sciences to understand social movements. The course will examine a range of case studies from around the globe, including movements dealing with human rights, economic and environmental justice, and armed revolutions. Particular attention will be paid to transnational activism.

Social Studies 98lf. Globalization and the Nation State
Nicolas Prevelakis 
Half course (fall term). Wednesday 4-6. 
Despite globalization, the nation is still a major actor in today's world. This course tries to understand why this is so by examining the role that nationalism plays in peoples' identities and the effects of globalization on nations and nationalism. Examples from the United States, Western Europe, Latin America, India, and the Middle East.

Social Studies 98 lh. Education and American Society
Andrew Jewett
Half course (fall term). Tuesday 2-4.
Explores how education has been and continues to be a central institution of American society, reflecting social ideals and ideologies while also directly shaping the contours and structures of society in both productive and detrimental ways. Examines different philosophical foundations of formal learning and how those theories have become manifested across time in various educational practices. Investigates how schools currently operate, specific issues the American educational system faces, and the implications of various schooling practices for structuring American society.

Social Studies 98nb. Inequality and Social Mobility in America
Anya Bassett 
Half course (fall term). Thursday 4-6.
The United States is currently experiencing high levels of income and wealth inequality and stagnant social mobility. This course will ask why this is and what, if anything, should be done about it. We will consider both social and individual explanations for inequality and social mobility, and we will examine efforts to decrease inequality and increase social mobility through educational and legal means.

 

Social Studies 98oa. Human Rights in Africa
Gwyneth McClendon
Half course (fall term). Wednesday 1-3.
To what extent are human rights discussed, contested and protected in Sub-Saharan Africa? This course addresses this question by taking seriously the enormous variation across Sub-Saharan African countries. Among the topics we discuss are: To what extent does a human rights agenda have an indigenous history and support on the continent? To what extent have African independence and other social movements made use of human rights claims and to what effect? To what extent has the human rights agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa involved socio-economic rights versus civil and political rights? To what extent has the agenda involved issues facing women and members of the LGBT community? And to what extent and how should non-African governments and organizations be involved in promoting a human rights agenda in these countries? We examine variation in colonial institutions, contemporary state-society relations, democratization and social identity groups in order to understand more about how configurations of power, state institutions and civil society condition the promotion of human rights in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Social Studies 98oc. Humans, Technology, and Biopolitics
Anya Bernstein 
Half course (fall term). Wednesday 1-3.
Recent scientific and technological advances are increasingly questioning what it means to be human. Debates on life extension, gene editing, and artificial intelligence regularly appear in the media, with views ranging from techno-optimism—the idea that such breakthroughs will deliver us from suffering—to the warnings that technoscience is advancing at such a rapid pace, that there is not enough time for ethical guidelines to be developed. Some argue that science is increasingly delivering on the promises traditionally made by Judeo-Christian religions, while others assert that such techno-optimist thinking is a kind of new religion in and of itself. Debates around emerging technologies cut across traditional political lines, making them specifically biopolitical, where such issues as human enhancement, control of reproduction,  genetic engineering, and many others, create new types of political positions and actors. This course will examine these issues, focusing specifically on what concepts of “the human” emerge from these debates, and how certain ideas about the future affect how we live and manage our time now, as futurist discourses are producing affective states of both hope and fear. Among the case studies for this course, we will look at the cultural and philosophical movements of transhumanism and posthumanism, new utopian and eschatological imaginaries, as well as ethical and legal questions of developing and using biomedical technologies, including their non-therapeutic use. As we proceed, we will pay particular attention to the shifting relations between body and person, human and time, transcendence and corporality, and technology and biology, while discussing how they contribute to the rethinking of the human condition in the technological age. Materials for the course will include academic pieces from a range of disciplines: STS, anthropology, philosophy, bioethics, as well as non-academic media sources, documentaries, and science fiction films.

Social Studies 98oq. Political Rhetoric and American Democracy
Adam Sandel
Half course (fall term). Monday 2-4.
In this course, we will investigate a question at the heart of democratic politics: in what sense, if any, is rhetoric a part of reasoned political argument? Is rhetoric a regrettable feature of democracy, or a practice worth cultivating? We often denigrate rhetoric as pandering or manipulation. We often assume that stories, images, and metaphors intended to persuade a particular audience are, at best, adornments to the "real argument." At worst, they are means of trickery, ways of moving people to a decision that their better reason would reject. But examples of great rhetoric force us to question this assumption. The speeches of political figures such as John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Martin Luther King arguably derive their moral force not simply from the principles they invoke, but from the way in which they appeal to the life circumstances of their listeners. We will examine the case for and against rhetoric by turning to classical texts (Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, Kant), contemporary political theory (Garsten, Beiner, Chambers), and great political speeches (Douglass, Lincoln, Johnson, and others.)

Social Studies 98pb. Global Slums
Kristin Skrabut
Half course (fall term). Thursday 3-5.
This course investigates “the slum” as a social product, an icon of disorder, and a setting for diverse cultures and modes of sociality. By comparing ethnographic case studies of slums from around the world, we explore how slums emerge at the intersection of global inequalities, state planning, and the insurgent practices of the poor. Topics we cover include: rural-urban migration, spatial segregation, housing and infrastructure, informal markets, sustainability, and urban social movements.

Social Studies 98pv. The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School
Peter Verovšek 
Half course (spring term). Tuesday 4-6.
This tutorial examines the major thinkers and themes associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. From its origins in the interwar crisis, critical theory has sought to diagnose the pathologies of the present in order to chart paths for social and political emancipation in the future. The readings trace the development of the Frankfurt School its various generations, engaging with many of the most important themes of twentieth century continental philosophy, including fascism, democracy, capitalism, bureaucracy, globalization and inequality, to name just a few. The goal of the tutorial is not only to gain a deeper understanding of the Frankfurt School, but also to assess the continued relevance of this distinctive approach to the critical theory of society.


Junior Tutorials — Spring 2017
Note: Admission is based on student preferences and a lottery system. Undergraduate non-concentrators may enroll in these tutorials if space is available.

Social Studies 98cl. Law and American Society
Terry Aladjem 
Half course (spring term). Thursday 2-4.
Examines law as a defining force in American culture and society in four dimensions—as it establishes individual rights, liberties, and limits of toleration; as it attempts to resolve differences among competing constituencies; as it sets out terms of punishment and social control, and as a source of informing images and ideological consistency.
Note: A prison trip is planned, subject to approval. 
 
Social Studies 98mi. Migration in Theory and Practice

Nicole Newendorp 
Half course (spring term). Hours to be arranged.
In this course, we will examine how and why people migrate from one location to another, focusing both on the theoretical paradigms scholars use to explain migration processes as well as on the individual experiences of migrants. Topics include transnationalism, diaspora, identity formation, integration and assimilation, citizenship claims, and the feminization of migration. Ethnographic readings focus primarily on migration to the US, but also include cases from other world areas, most notably Asia.

 

Social Studies 98nc. The Economics of Education

Amanda Pallais 
Half course (spring term). Tuesday 3-5.
This course examines economic aspects of education issues, using quantitative research. We will examine several of the major proposed strategies for improving schools including increasing school resources, enhancing school accountability, and improving teacher selection and training. We will also discuss higher education and education in developing economies. The class culminates with students writing a serious research paper.

Social Studies 98nd. Mass Violence, Memory, and Reconciliation
Jonathan Hansen
Half course (spring term). Hours to be arranged.
This tutorial examines the problem of national reconciliation after mass violence. How does a nation sundered by genocide, civil war, or political repression reestablish the social trust and civic consciousness required of individual and collective healing? What makes some reconciliations successful, others less so? The course will engage these and other questions from historical and contemporary perspectives, exploring the legacy of mass violence going back centuries, while comparing reconciliation projects across cultures, countries, and continents.

Social Studies 98ok. The Politics of the Environment in Asia
Kevin Caffrey
Half course (spring term). Hours to be arranged.
Scholars have noted the connection between environment and specific forms of Asian politics and society. Today China reengineers the flow of its rivers to address social demands for water. South & Southeast Asian polities realize how politics beyond their borders can determine the flow of the region's rivers--and thus the health of their societies. The dangers of poor air quality, polluted land, and contaminated food energize social movements and unrest.  Asian development models have resulted in extreme pollution, and with resulting public health problems, governmental attention to the environment has increased. In this research seminar students will explore "politics and environment" in Asia, with some attention being given to the future.

Social Studies 98ou. Environmental Theory
Rebecca Ploof
Half course (spring term). Hours to be arranged.
The term “anthropocene” – which suggests that the natural world has been profoundly altered by human activity – originated in the physical sciences and has become an increasingly popular a way to describe the time in which we live.  But how have the social sciences understood nature and humanity’s relationship to it?  Is this relationship best framed in terms of human exceptionality and domination?  Is our connection to the natural world and its non-human inhabitants best construed, alternatively, in terms of interdependence or, perhaps, ethical obligation?  What are the social, political, and economic implications of the relationship between nature and humanity?  This course will explore these and related concerns by pairing classic texts from the history of social and political thought with contemporary ecological discourse.

Social Studies 98ov. Global Democratic Politics
Angela Maione
Half course (spring term). Hours to be arranged.
What does it mean to think democratic politics in a transnational or global vein? What might global democracy look like? Does it differ from global democratic practice? In this seminar we will consider the advantages and disadvantages of various contemporary responses to these questions. We will also turn to history in order to trace a genealogy of the possibilities and limits of global democratic theory from the 18th century to the present. Finally, we will engage a series of contemporary debates around digital democracy, transnational feminism, radical cosmopolitanism, and human rights in light of both the history of political thought as well as in relation to more recent democratic theory. Readings may include Rousseau, Marx, Luxemburg, and Arendt from the history of political thought as well as contemporary scholarship by Raymond Geuss, Martha Nussbaum, Seyla Benhabib, James Ingram, Claude Lefort, Etienne Balibar and Robert Meister, among others. 

Social Studies 98ow. Crime and Governance in Latin America
Ieva Jusionyte
Half course (spring term). Monday 2-4.
This course examines how governing through crime has become a dominant mode of power and sovereignty in Latin America. Through ethnographic case studies on forced disappearances, drug trafficking, transnational gangs, and government corruption in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, and Argentina, we will analyze historical, economic, social and cultural process that have shaped the organized brutalities and petty delinquencies in the region. The underlying questions motivating our discussions throughout the semester include: Who has the power to outlaw particular activities and what is the logic behind designating people who engage in them as criminals? While laws establish formal boundaries between the legal and the illegal, how does a bottom-up approach to governance and lived experiences of crime blur this separation?

Social Studies 98ox. Facism and the Far Right in Europe
Daniel Ziblatt
Half course (spring term). Monday 1-3.
What is fascism? How did fascists come to power in some states in interwar Europe? What are the legacies of fascism? Who are Europe's radical right parties today, and what explains the appeals of a new wave of radical right politics that appears to be sweeping advanced democracies?  These are the core questions we will address in this course.

Social Studies 98pd. Capitalism and American Culture Since the Gilded Age
Ryan Acton
Half course (spring term). Wednesday 4-6.
This course asks how capitalism and American culture have shaped each other since the rise of the modern economy after the Civil War. To what extent and in what ways has culture shaped economic life? To what extent and in what ways has economic life shaped the desires, aspirations, and values of Americans? Topics may include: evangelical businessmen, investment banking, race and suburban development, Walmart, cosmetic products, women in the corporate workplace, masculinity and the self-made man, the cult of celebrity, the "American Dream," and the astrology column of the LA Times.

Social Studies 98pl. Empire and Colonialism in the Modern World
Daragh Grant
Half course (spring term). Tuesday 4-6.
This class investigates the question of how empire and colonialism shaped the modern world. Drawing on global histories of empire as well as studies of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the tutorial examines how law, culture, economy, and space became vehicles for imperial expansion and colonial control. Methodologically, the tutorial will take a broadly historical approach, attending to how both the concepts and practices of empire were transformed over time. Throughout, we will highlight the forms of resistance that developed in response to empire. We will also consider how resistance was conditioned by colonialism’s regimes of racial and cultural classification and analyze the enduring effects of this conditioning in the present.


Senior Tutorial

Social Studies 99a. Tutorial — Senior Year
Anya Bassett, Nicole Newendorp 
Full course (indivisible). 
Writing of senior honors essay. Students must complete both terms of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit.
Note: Required for concentrators.

 
Social Studies 99b. Tutorial — Senior Year
Anya Bassett, Nicole Newendorp 
Full course (indivisible). 
Writing of senior honors essay. Students must complete both terms of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit.
Note: Required for concentrators.

Reading and Research

Social Studies 91. Supervised Reading and Research
Anya Bassett and members of the Committee 
Half course (fall term; repeated spring term). Hours to be arranged.
Individual work in Social Studies on a topic not covered by regular courses of instruction. Permission of the Director of Studies required.